To create this work, the artist pinched a piece of pork every day, taking a photograph of the moment until the pork finally became too dry. The viewer is led to imagine Gu, a man full of life, sitting there pinching the "water" and "blood" out of a dead life, experiencing the constant contact between life and death. However, what the viewer experiences is only the elegance of false pretenses and the ritualistic scene in a temple-like space. The photographs of hands pinching the pork are neatly arranged, like a series of abstract paintings. The pieces of dried pork are laid on a table in the middle wrapped in red cloth, like the remains of the deceased waiting for others to pay their last respects. Gu has deliberately created a distance between what the viewers had “seen” and the real “meaning” that he had obtained in creating the work, so as to conceal what only he had experienced. What Gu created was only an inflammatory scene, a tantalizing hint at the true significance.
About Gu Dexin
A pioneer of contemporary Chinese art, Gu Dexin is best known for his subversive installations that explore the concepts of decay and permanence. Since the 1980s, Gu has rejected the exploration of China’s socialist legacy that preoccupies many of his contemporaries, instead filling galleries with fruit or meat, which he would allow to rot in the gallery space. For other works he installs arrangements of mass-produced plastic, as in the toy automobiles of 2004.05.09 (2004), its title reflective of his insistence to not impose meaning on to his works. Gu’s artistic output is extremely varied—he began his career producing surrealistic, figurative paintings, and in recent years has turned to animation and a quieter, less graphic mode of installation, exemplified by 2009-05-02 (2009), a peaceful, cemetery-like piece accompanied by accusatory texts like “WE KILLED HUMANS.” Gu ended his career upon completing this work.
Chinese, b. 1962, Beijing, China, based in Beijing, China